Recently, numerous Amish were interviewed in Lancaster County, PA to see how they felt about the upcoming national election.
Unsurprisingly, almost 100% of them said they preferred someone other than Hillary Clinton for president. The Amish are extremely conservative — so they tend to support Republicans against a party they associate with abortion, homosexual rights and other forms of cultural liberalism.
Most Amish have never heard Donald Trump speak. They’ve read newspaper articles about him, learned about him through word-of-mouth, but have never had the full sensory experience because their simple faith avoids television, radio and the internet. Most of them think Twitter is something you might hear from a bird. When a somewhat boastful statement from Donald Trump is quoted to them, some are surprised. “That’s a little too much bragging,” says a young woman at a bookstore counter. “ Usually when people think too much of themselves, that’s when it all goes downhill.”
"But here's the kicker: Most Amish are pulling for Trump, and for many that simply means praying that Hillary won't win--even if they don't normally vote. Generally they don't care. But the prospect of a Hillary presidency is a strong motivator for a community that eschews most of the things that she stands for. “No Amish is going to vote for Hillary,” said one Amish man. “No one that I know wants a woman president, or the the things that she is supporting."
Voting not a priority for Amish community
The estimated 70,000 Amish in Pennsylvania could be a powerful voting bloc. In a close race, a big Amish turnout could put Trump over the top in a state that’s crucial to his northeastern rust-belt strategy.
An estimated 5% of Amish cast ballots in the last election. Getting voter ID isn’t the problem, they say. The issue, frankly, is they don’t really care all that much about voting. It’s not encouraged or discouraged by church preachers; it’s just not a priority.
One dairy farmer explains the case for not voting. "The end of the world could happen at any moment", he says. "In the meantime, everything is placed in God's hands. “One man on the knees (praying) will do more than 20 at the polls,” says the farmer, standing in front of his red barn. This farmer makes world-class organic butter used in fancy restaurants. That’s according to a non-Amish friend, because this farmer in the dusty pants and dark suspenders doesn’t brag. He doesn’t fret, either, about the world ending. He says he tries leading a faithful life; the rest is in the Lord’s hands.
He does fear for the country, though. He likens modern America to the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. He says America's problems started with women’s rights. Men had always exercised leadership in the world, he says, since it was created a few thousand years ago. Then women started voting, they began working outside the home, then came birth control and family planning, abortion, gay rights: “It all went belly-up,” he said.
As someone who was raised a seventh-generation Anabaptist (and my maternal grandfather was old-order Amish), I can affirm that almost none of my former people like the idea of a Hillary presidency. I know of only three young people who would support her--out of a couple thousand. Just the mention of Hillary Clinton's name brings a wail of anguish from my older sister--as if she had just inadvertently stepped barefoot into a lukewarm pile of horse dropping. She has a great sense of humor, as do my other siblings, but a Hillary presidency isn't funny to them. I'm not endorsing either candidate but I have never seen the Anabaptist community this averse to a presidential candidate.
A super public action committee (PAC) has been launched by a former member of the Amish community. It’s printed ads emphasize more relatable parts of Trump’s story: He doesn’t drink, works hard and involves his children in the family business. The ads gloss over the casinos and divorces. But Amish PAC founder Ben White says he’s trying to even out the score. He says newspapers don’t tell the whole story about Trump, and people need to hear it.
“The media … is doing a huge disservice to the country by not mentioning the successes he’s had,” said Mr. King, who left the community for a modern life.
So in an election where every vote counts, some are even courting the Amish. I wonder if their new slogan is "Make straw hats great again"?
[Disclaimer: This news piece is not an endorsement of political candidates, but rather a look into the widening circle of preferences surrounding this national election.]